Heat may have contributed to death of woman hiking in Arizona
Officials in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, say there have been 39 confirmed heat- associated deaths this year.LEARN MORE
So far this year, there have been 425 confirmed heat-associated deaths in Maricopa County, Arizona.
The dangerous heat that plagues Arizona confirms a grim reality. New data released by Maricopa County, where Phoenix is located, shows extreme heat killed more people this season than ever recorded.
For people living on the Phoenix streets, it's no surprise. This summer a persistent heat wave shattered records from coast to coast — experts referred to it as a bi-coastal phenomenon. And Phoenix found itself at the center.
This year Phoenix clocked in 55 days with temperatures of 110 degrees Fahrenheit or more, and 22 days with temperatures of 115 degrees or more — both breaking records set in 2020. There were also three days that reached 119 degrees or above, beating the two-day record set in 1990.
New data from the Maricopa County Department of Public Health confirmed 469 heat associated deaths. That's up 10% from last year, setting a new record.
Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, the medical director of the Maricopa County Department of Public Health says these deaths are preventable.
"We still have over 150 deaths to investigate, which tells us we're probably going to go over 500 deaths this year," said Sunenshine.
Walter Richardson is all too familiar with the dangers of extreme heat. Two summers ago, he says, a nap on the street left him scarred for life.
"It was like cooking a piece of meat on the grill, you know," said Richardson.
In 2022, Phoenix launched the first city-funded Office of Heat Response and Mitigation, known as Heat Ready PHX.
This year the office brought on new partners and nursing students to help hit the ground, handing out water and cooling shelter information in an effort to help save lives.
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Scientists using proxies such as ice cores, tree rings and corals have also said this is the warmest decade Earth has seen in about 125,000 years.
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